Saturday, October 27, 2012

Bryant Watch: Narcissists ‘R Us

He’s got it bad, self-pitying Weltschmerz, and that’s not good, not good at all. He comes out fighting, after all, it’s not HIS problem, ‘cause Levi’s seen the light! Levi’s seen the light. It’s those damned Continentals:
The central failure of Continental philosophy has been the rejection of naturalism. With few exceptions, Continental thought, since the 19th century, disavowed the naturalistic revolution that began in the 16th century. Rather than choosing nature– which is to say materiality and efficient causation –as the ground of being, again and again it has made obscurantist gestures based on a recoil to the naturalist revolution: subject or lived experience as the ground of being (phenomenology), spirit as ground of being (Hegel), economics as ground of being (Marx), signifier as ground of being (structuralism and post-structuralism), power as a ground of being (Foucault), history as a ground of being (Gadamer), text as a ground of being, ect. We even get romantic visions of nature evoking the will to power and élan vital.

In Freudian terms, these are so many responses to the narcisstic wound of nature and materiality. It is not the subject, lived experience, history, intentionality, the signifier, text, or power that explains nature, that explains nature, it is nature and materiality that explains all of these things.
Nonsense. Utter Rubbish.

Where he says “Continental philosophy” read “Levi Bryant.” Why? No one held a gun to Bryant’s head when he decided to get a degree in Continental philosophy. He chose to do so of his own free will. If Continental philosophy is indeed guilty of worshipping those false intellectual idols—and I’m by no means convinced it is, not all of them, not so simply—then those are the idols Bryant chose to worship when he signed up for the program.

So Byant’s just complaining about himself. A narcissist’s complaint. For he’s certainly not standing aside or outside the philosophical formation he’s angry at/with.

Did he not just declare, albeit with reservations, that we must contemplate incorporeal machines to deal with writing and other strange and troubling things? What’s naturalistic and materialistic about that, putting them on the ground floor of his ontology? It’s word magic, as though a fancy label can solve an intellectual problem.

That’s what Bryant’s about, coining fancy terms in lieu of original thought.

Any card-carrying Ph.D. who’s as sloppy about the concepts of entropy, phase space, and complex dynamics as Bryant insists on being is not serious about science and the material, not in this 21st century CE. He’s at most a wannabe. An acolyte to the starZ, a humanist in reaction formation who hopes to master the putative devil by taking on his cloak and hooves. And now he hates himself for it.

The intellectual formations Bryant’s critiquing are his own, displaced, distorted, and projected, but his own. The only way out of this is to utter the magic words: This thing of darkness, I acknowledge mine.

And then step away.

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